Japan has long been known for it's love of nail art, from the most minimal of styles to the almost inconceivable (sushi roll on your fingertip anyone...?!).  But alongside the crazy and kawaii creations comes true artistry, in a country that takes beauty and self care extremely seriously.

Take Tokyo for example; a place bursting with new talent in an industry where competition is high.  So in a city so full of people and with nail salons on each and every corner, how does one set itself apart from the next and furthermore, how do they survive? We met with ISLA's new nail artist, Miu, to discuss some of the answers.
Originally from Osaka, Miu trained at art school before moving to Tokyo to pursue her career as a nail artist working alongside some of Japan's most successful artists.  Working in Tokyo's fast lane for three years, Miu soon established her own style which led her to work in New York, London, Melbourne and now ISLA in Berlin.

I: How did your career in nail art begin?
M: After attending art school, my original plan was to become a tattoo artist.  However, in Japan tattoos are still not widely accepted so working in that industry felt a little risky.  Nail art appealed to me because it is a way to express yourself as an artist and create unique designs yet somehow in a less controversial way.

I: Why do you think nail art is so popular in Japan?
M: Nail art is such a huge part of our culture now.  In Japan, we love things to be 'kawaii' (cute) and nail art has become an extension of that.  It's another way that we can express ourselves and our personalities.
I: With so much competition in Tokyo, how do you think nail salons survive? 
M: I think the key for each salon or artist to be successful is to find their own style or genre that makes them different from other artists.  In Japan we are almost spoilt because we have so many options to choose from.  The demand is huge and clients often have very high expectations so it is important that each artist really excels at what they do.

I: Who are your main influences and how would you define your style?
M: During my time in Tokyo I worked at a nail salon in Harajuku called Avarice (@nailsalonavarice_harajuku) where I met a talented artist named Yuko (@yko1220) who was also from the same hometown as me.  She creates extremely detailed, almost fine art designs and I immediately related to and admired her style - I really learned a lot from her.  My work is also heavily influenced by artists such as Dali and Magritte whom I studied at art school.  I love how their paintings are so detailed and transport you to another world.
I: How do you think nail art designs differ between Europe and Japan?
M: In Japan, most people generally prefer to keep their nails short and use the natural shape and length as the base to create designs, whereas in Europe clients are more willing to experiment with long, acrylic nails and embellishments.  I'm enjoying learning the differences between what clients want in Berlin and the challenge of creating different styles for them.  It's a constantly evolving industry, always open to new possibilities which is what I love about it.

I: How did you discover ISLA and what do you hope to bring to your new clients in Berlin?
M: I discovered ISLA through Instagram shortly after arriving in Berlin and began searching for work as a nail artist.  There are very few places in Berlin doing nail art in the way they do so I was immediately drawn to ISLA's style and contacted ISLA directly hoping they might be looking for a new nail artist.  I love to create detailed artistic designs so this is something unique I can bring to ISLA.
I: You've been in Berlin for a month now; how are you enjoying it so far?
M: I love how liberal and free it is here, it seems like individuality is really embraced in this city.  I have only been here a short time so have lots to explore but so far I particularly love the east side as well as the street art which really inspires me.  Being a vegan, I also love having so many options of where to eat here!

I: And finally, who would be your dream client?
M: I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino movies and love Samuel L. Jackson.  He might not be into nail art but I would just love to meet him!

To meet Miu in person and experience her unique nail art designs, contact ISLA for an appointment on +49 162 9741809 or via email contact@islaberlin.com
Written by Hazel Hedges